A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘siberia

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Centauri Dreams looks at evidence that Ceres’ Occator Crater, an apparent cryovolcano, may have been recently active.
  • Crooked Timber’s John Quiggin wonders what would have happened had Kerensky accepted the German Reichstag’s proposal in 1917.
  • Dangerous Minds looks at some fun that employees at a bookstore in France got up to with book covers.
  • Cody Delistraty describes F. Scott Fitzgerald’s utter failure to fit into Hollywood.
  • A Fistful of Euros hosts Alex Harrowell’s blog post taking a look at recent history from a perspective of rising populism.
  • io9 reports on a proposal from the Chinese city of Lanzhou to set up a water pipeline connecting it to Siberia’s Lake Baikal.
  • Imageo notes a recent expedition by Norwegian scientists aiming at examining the winter ice.
  • Strange Maps links to an amazing graphic mapping the lexical distances between Europe’s languages.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is on the verge of a new era of population decline, and shares a perhaps alarming perspective on the growth of Muslim populations in Russia.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Centauri Dreams looks at ongoing research into the sizes of Alpha Centauri A and B.
  • Dangerous Minds notes Finland’s introduction of a new Tom of Finland emoji.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper speculating as to the fate of icy dwarf exoplanets in white dwarf systems.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on the intensification of the war in Ukraine’s Donbas.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog asks readers how they study.
  • Language Log looks at the structure of yes-no questions in Chinese.
  • The NYRB Daily looks at the consequences of the Trump travel ban.
  • The Planetary Society Blog considers impact craters as potential abodes for life.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer does not quite understand renters’ fears about new developments in their neighbourhoods.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers the court ruling against Trump’s refugee order.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests prospects for long-term economic growth in Russia have collapsed, and notes the sharp fall in real incomes in Asian Russia.

[CAT] “Scientists want to give the world a second chance at Caspian tigers”

Popular Science‘s Sarah Fecht was one of many people last month noting a proposal to restore tigers to Central Asia by importing Siberian tigers to suitable habitats in Kazakhstan. I have to admit this particular rewilding plan appeals to me: Siberian tigers are so close by, after all.

Caspian tigers once roamed all over Central Asia, ranging from modern day Turkey to northwestern China. The huge cats stalked through tall reeds and shrubbery, hunting boar and deer. But in the first half of the 1900s, hunting and poisoning decimated the subspecies, and the Soviet Union’s agriculture projects drained the tiger’s swampy terrain to grow cotton and other crops. Disappearing habitats and food sources had wiped the Caspian tiger off the map by the 1950s.

But Central Asia may yet get its tigers back. Scientists at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) want to reintroduce tigers to a remote area of Kazakhstan.

It’s too late to save the Caspian tiger (unless we de-extinct them using genetic engineering), but the Siberian tiger, a close relative, might be able to fill the ecological hole it left behind.

“We think it’s a good idea to restore this legendary animal to the habitats where it lived only 50 or 60 years ago,” says Mikhail Paltsyn, a doctoral candidate at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Paltsyn is a member of the WWF and IUCN, and he was recently commissioned to study the restoration program.

Two factors bolster the case for the tiger’s reintroduction. First, the collapse of the Soviet Union saw some of its agricultural programs abandoned, and natural habitats restored. Second, in 2009, scientists discovered that the Siberian tiger is a close relative of the extinct Caspian. A good portion of the Caspian tiger’s DNA lives on in the Siberian subspecies, which might make it a suitable replacement for the extinct cat.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 4, 2017 at 5:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly calls on journalists to stand up to Trump.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at exocomets.
  • Language Log shares an ad from the 1920s using the most vintage language imaginable.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money talks about globalization as a mechanism for concentrating wealth at the top of the elite.
  • The LRB Blog talks about the ghosts of the Cold War in the contemporary world.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen argues that Germany has its own responsibility in transatlantic relations.
  • The New APPS Blog looks at the importance of administrative law.
  • The NYRB Daily celebrates John Berger.
  • Savage Minds proposes a read-in of Michel Foucault in protest of Trump’s inauguration on the 20th.
  • Towleroad reports on the latest statistics on the proportions of LGBT people in the United States.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at the continuing depopulation of the Russian Far East and examines the shift to indigenous naming practices in Kyrgyzstan.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Anthropology.net looks at the genetics of how the Inuit have adapted to cold weather.
  • ‘Nathan Smith’s Apostrophen shares the author’s plans for the coming year.
  • Beyond the Beyond’s Bruce Sterling shares Margaret Atwood’s commitment to fighting for freedom of expression.
  • Crooked Timber asks its readers for recommendations in Anglophone science fiction.
  • D-Brief notes the discovery of the human mesentery.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze looks at the protoplanetary disk of LkCa 15 disk.
  • Far Outliers looks at some lobsters imported to Japan from (a) Christmas Island.
  • Joe. My. God. notes Janet Jackson has given birth.
  • Language Hat examines the contrast often made between indigenous and immigrant languages.
  • Language Log looks at the names of the stations of the Haifa subway.
  • Steve Munro notes Bathurst Station’s goodbye to Honest Ed’s.
  • The Planetary Society Blog examines the Dawn probe’s discoveries at Ceres in the past year.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at how the permafrost of the Russian far north is melting and endangering entire cities, and contrasts the prosperity of the Estonian city of Narva relative to the decay of adjacent Ivangorod.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Bad Astronomy notes that a NASA probe has photographed the site on Mars where the ESA’s Schiaparelli lander crashed.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly writes about being an immigrant, of sorts, in the United States.
  • C.J. Cherry announces that work on her history of the Alliance-Union universe is continuing.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper looking at the ionization of protoplanetary disks by cosmic radiations.
  • The Dragon’s Tales finds evidence for Planet Nine in the orbits of Kuiper Belt objects and the inner Oort cloud.
  • Far Outliers looks at the culture of addiction in Appalachia.
  • Joe. My. God. notes how a Russian embassy has mocked the European Union for defending GLBT rights.
  • Language Log looks at the sounds made by speakers of English, native and Chinese-language mother tongue both.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a map of the river basins of the United States.
  • Torontoist looks at the history of clowns in Toronto.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at how Central Asia is non-Muslim, reports a call for a historical reorientation of Azerbaijan, reports on a Tatar dramatist’s fear that Russia is trying to assimilate non-Russians, and looks at how a court in Sakha has defended the constitutional rights of the republic and its titular people.

[URBAN NOTE] “Arctic Cities Crumble as Climate Change Thaws Permafrost”

Wired‘s Alec Luhn reports from Siberia, where global warming is wreaking havoc on cities’ infrastructure. If there is going to be, as some predict, a population boom in the Arctic as global warming continues, there are going to be major infrastructure issues around.

At first, Yury Scherbakov thought the cracks appearing in a wall he had installed in his two-room flat were caused by shoddy workmanship. But then other walls started cracking, and then the floor started to incline. “We sat on the couch and could feel it tilt,” says his wife, Nadezhda, as they carry furniture out of the flat.

Yury wasn’t a poor craftsman, and Nadezhda wasn’t crazy: One corner of their five-story building at 59 Talnakhskaya Street in the northern Russian city of Norilsk was sinking as the permafrost underneath it thawed and the foundation slowly disintegrated. In March 2015, local authorities posted notices in the stairwells that the building was condemned.

Cracking and collapsing structures are a growing problem in cities like Norilsk—a nickel-producing centre of 177,000 people located 180 miles above the Arctic Circle—as climate change thaws the perennially frozen soil and increases precipitation. Valery Tereshkov, deputy head of the emergencies ministry in the Krasnoyarsk region, wrote in an article this year that almost 60 percent of all buildings in Norilsk have been deformed as a result of climate change shrinking the permafrost zone. Local engineers said more than 100 residential buildings, or one-tenth of the housing fund, have been vacated here due to damage from thawing permafrost.

In most cases, these are slow-motion wrecks that can be patched up or prevented by engineering solutions. But if a foundation shifts suddenly it can put lives at risk: cement slabs broke a doctor’s legs when the front steps and overhanging roof of a Norilsk blood bank collapsed in June 2015. Building and maintenance costs will have to be ramped up to keep cities in Russia’s resource-rich north running.

Engineers and geologists are careful to note that “technogenic factors” like sewer and building heat and chemical pollution are also warming the permafrost in places like Norilsk, the most polluted city in Russia. But climate change is deepening the thaw and speeding up the destruction, at the very same time that Russia is establishing new military bases and oil-drilling infrastructure across the Arctic. Greenpeace has warned that permafrost thawing has caused thousands of oil and gas pipeline breaks.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 21, 2016 at 9:30 pm